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Wed, 06 Jul 22 11:59

Comment: UASC and ADCS age assessment guidance

Commenting on UASC arriving in Kent and other gateway authorities and the ADCS age assessment guidance, Jenny Coles, ADCS President said:

“The increasing numbers of asylum-seeking children arriving in Kent, as well as other gateway authorities, over the past few months has placed unprecedented demand on their services. Kent County Council recently came to the difficult decision that they can no longer accept any more newly arrived UASC into their care because it is unsafe to do so, despite their best efforts to avoid such a situation. We are thankful to the local authorities who have offered their support, indeed over 140 children and young people arriving at Dover have since been safely placed with other local authorities. Councils want to help but to do this we need more support from government, for example, government must address the unresolved and ongoing issues with the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) that the Association has been raising with them for years, including the need for grant funding from the Home Office to fully cover the costs of supporting unaccompanied children and young people, and UASC leaving care. Some councils support an alternative option to the voluntary system by mandating transfers under the NTS, and while rota systems have been effective in some areas, mandating transfers may be seen as the only next step if effective changes are not made soon. Providing councils with the funding they need could support transfers from Kent in the short term, and the revised scheme in the long term. Other issues include the need for quick and accurate decision to be made over a child’s asylum claim, and the need to ensure placements and specialist mental health support is available when and where they are needed. We need to work together to ensure there is a sustainable and equitable response to this humanitarian crisis that operates in best interests of children and young who are fleeing desperate situations and have risked their lives in search of safety.

“Conducting age assessments is complex and specialist work. In 2015, ADCS and a consortium of partners from local and central government, health, the police and non government organisations developed practice guidance intended to support social workers to conduct the best age assessment possible, bearing in mind the best interests of children. The practice guidance was designed to fill an obvious gap in national policy to support social workers conducting age assessments, however, it’s important to recognise it has no formal status rather it is there to advise and assist social workers. ADCS is encouraging the Home Office and the Department for Education to think longer term about the establishment of a national resource for conducting age assessments.”


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